The BMWED has sued BNSF Railway in federal court to combat the carrier’s bad faith in dealing with the Union by its depletion of its Maintenance of Way workforce and its blatant disregard of contractual obligations intended to protect our members and their work.
Since 2016, BNSF employees in the Maintenance of Way craft have decreased by 18 percent despite obligations within the Railway Labor Act and other negotiated collectively bargaining agreements. In 2016, BNSF employed around 7,122 MOW workers. By 2019, that number dropped to 6,446. Currently, about 5,805 employees remain in the carrier’s MOW department. During the same period, BNSF’s use of contractors to perform maintenance of way work more than doubled.
Over that same period, BNSF’s amount of trackage, bridges and structures requiring maintenance has not materially changed, meaning 82 percent of the 2016 workforce oversees the same infrastructure.
In a callous money grab, the carrier has attempted to mitigate this shortfall by contracting out this protected work under the guise that it does not have the adequate workforce. But the railroad has not made good faith efforts to employ the needed workers within the craft to keep up with its rapidly failing infrastructure. BNSF’s short-term drive to show profits has resulted in the company sabotaging its own ability to comply with minimum workforce agreements and has also undermined its ability to maintain its infrastructure to the level necessary to provide adequate service to its customers.
“The fact of the matter is BNSF is attempting to shirk its responsibility under the Railway Labor Act in an effort to reduce its labor cost and enrich itself at the expense of our members,” Tim Bunch, George Loveland, John Mozinski and Dennis Albers, the four BMWED General Chairmen on BNSF, said in a joint statement. “They are ignoring past agreements on manpower, offering up flimsy excuses for their attrition, and laughing all the way to the bank. We have been patient and have waited for BNSF to rectify this situation on its own but that has not proved beneficial. So we now turn to the court to enforce action.”
You can read the court complaint here: https://www.bmwe.org/secondary.aspx?id=836